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Chapter 17 : Valentine's Day
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"I take it you liked the flowers, then?" James teased.
She laughed happily, and he kissed her with passion. Her soft lips parted and allowed his tongue to enter her mouth and he kissed her deeper and deeper, until he heard a noise behind him. The two broke apart to find Peter standing uncomfortably.
"Er, can I get through? You're blocking the bathroom."
Lily and James allowed him to enter the bathroom, and then resumed where they had left off.
"Happy Valentine's Day, darling," said James when they had broken apart once more. "I love you."
"I love you too," Lily replied, and rested her head against his shoulder.
Aria walked to the Quidditch Pitch slowly, taking in the scenery around her. It was a beautiful day outside because snow covered the ground and more was falling softly. She couldn't force back a smile as she recalled the note she had found on her pillow that morning:
My beloved Melody,
Will you make me the happiest man in the world and grace me with your exquisite presence at the time of ten-thirty at the Quidditch Pitch on this beautiful fourteenth day of February? I solemnly swear on the Marauder's Honor that your time will not be wasted.
Forever in your awe,
*Honestly, he can be so sweet and silly sometimes and then a complete idiot in the next moment.* Aria ran towards the Pitch as she neared it, and when she finally did arrive, she gasped in amazement.
Sirius was standing at the other end of the Pitch. In between him and her, red and pink rose petals were falling out of the sky and landing on the soft, white snow to form the words "I love you, Aria", and the song Witchcraft by Frank Sinatra was playing softly in the background. Aria laughed aloud with happiness at the sight while Sirius crossed the Pitch and put his arms around her.
"Happy Valentine's Day, love" he murmured in her ear.
She turned around and beamed up at him.
"Sirius," she laughed. "This is the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me! Thank you so much!"
Sirius simply smiled and kissed her.
"Dance with me," he said when they had broken apart.
Aria smiled and placed one hand on his shoulder and the other in his own hand, and the couple danced while the petals-and snow-continued to fall from the sky.
Ashley awoke on Valentine's Day as if it were any other day. However, when she saw the bouquet of flowers in a vase by Lily's bed and the note on Aria's pillow, she was overcome with a sudden pang of jealousy and sadness. There were no flowers for her today, no love notes. She tried to tell herself that it was her own fault that she was in the position that she was in, but nothing helped. Ashley considered going back to sleep and lying in bed all day long. She was positive that she would not be missed until it came time to prepare for the Formal, and she had absolutely nothing else to do. ~I could go to the Pitch and play some Quidditch�but its sure to be filled with snogging couples by this point. Ugh, that's the last thing I need. Oooh, I could go to Hogsmeade! Honeydukes is giving out free samples of their newest chocolate today. But Hogsmeade is no fun unless you're there with someone.~ To her frustration, Ashley found tears stinging her eyes once more. Angrily, she wiped them away. What she truly needed, she told herself, was someone to talk to, someone who would listen to her problems and advise her. On any other occasion, that would be Remus, but seeing as he was the last person she wanted to see, someone else would have to serve in his place. ~Lily? No, she's probably with James today. And the same for Aria. Oi, is there ANYONE in this bloody school who'll be by themselves today?~ And then it dawned upon her. ~Hagrid! He'll be in his hut! Oh, why didn't I think of him before?~ Ashley felt much happier than she had when she had woken up that morning, and with a much lighter heart, she brushed her teeth and showered and was out of the castle in no time.
Hagrid had just put his enormous copper teakettle on the stove when Fang began to bark enthusiastically. The boarhound bounded over to the door and began pawing at it. A few moments later, Hagrid heard knocking, and he grabbed Fang by the collar to restrain him and then opened the door to find Ashley standing before him, and shivering slightly from the cold.
"Well, Hullo, Ash, its bin a while since yeh've come ter me hut," said Hagrid, hugging the girl.
"I know, Hagrid, I'm sorry, its just that, a-a lot has been going on lately," she replied sadly.
Hagrid released the dog from his grip, and he jumped onto the girl, knocking her over in the process. She laughed as Fang licked her face over and over again, and gently pushed him away.
"Would yeh like some tea? Or a rock cake? Jes' baked 'em las' night," the gigantic man offered.
Ashley fought to hide a smile as she politely refused. She had had plenty of experiences with Hagrid's cooking; none of them good.
"How have yeh bin lately?" he asked, sitting down at the round table across from her.
Ashley bit her lip and looked into her friend's eyes.
"Awful," she said in a small voice. "Everything is going downhill and it seems as if it'll be going that way for a while."
"What happen'd?" Hagrid asked concernedly.
"First of all, I'm a Seer, I just found out before the Holidays. Right now I can only See through my dreams, and the visions are horrible. I-I-I keep Seeing the Dark Lord murdering poor, defenseless, innocent people," she whispered.
Hagrid noticed that she was holding on to the table very tightly as she said this, so tight that her knuckles were white.
"There, there, Ashley," he soothed.
"And second of all, I'm worried about Daddy. You know he's an Auror, right? Well, lately he's been writing less and less frequently, and Mum says that he's gone more often on missions and such. I don't want anything to happen to him, but I have the eeriest feeling that something will," Ashley confessed.
She hadn't told anyone about this fear, not her friends or her parents. Hagrid smiled reassuringly.
"Ash, yeh've got nothin' ter worry about. Yer dad's one of the best Aurors the Mins'try's seen in years!"
"But I can't help worrying about him," said Ashley, and Hagrid patted her arm comfortingly. "And then�oh god!"
"What? What is it?" asked Hagrid.
"I must be the most dimwitted person in Hogwarts," Ashley moaned. "You know how the Formal is tonight, right?"
"Well�I was hoping that-that Remus would ask me," said Ashley blushing, and Hagrid smiled faintly. "I was waiting for days for him to ask me, and he never did. Then Rhys Davies asked me to go with him, and by that point I had given up on the chance that Remus would ask me, and so I said yes, but true to my luck, he asked me that very same night and I had to turn him down!"
"Yes! And he looked so hurt too�I've been feeling horrible ever since then. I can't help but think that my chances with him are zero from now on�and this morning it felt the worst because its Valentine's Day and everyone else got roses and chocolates on their pillows, a-and there was nothing on mine. Just my pillow. Oh Hagrid, I know I must sound incredibly childish right now, being resentful that I didn't get a Valentine's Day gift, but I can't help it!" Ashley's voice shook as she finally spilled all of the feelings that had been bottled up inside of her for the past few days.
"Come now, Ash, yeh can't think tha' way! Yeh've done nothin' wrong but fall in love!" Hagrid exclaimed.
"I wish I hadn't," she whispered bitterly.
"But yeh did, and yeh can't help these kinds o' things. Yeh won't always have an easy life, there won't always be chocolates on yer pillow, but tha' doesn't mean there never will be! But when yeh do find them there, savor 'em! An' let me tell yeh somethin': that boy is crazy about you. Over the moon for yeh. So don' start thinkin' that there's no hope left 'cause there always is!" said Hagrid.
Fang barked mightily in agreement. Ashley looked up at him.
"D-d'you really think so?"
"I know so."
Ashley smiled the first real smile she had worn in what seemed like ages. She hugged the large man tightly.
"Thanks for listening, Hagrid."
"Anytime, Ash. Anytime."
Ashley returned to the castle to discover two things: it was lunchtime, and she was starving. She joined her friends at a table in the Great Hall and began to eat. After lunch, she, Lily, and Aria went back to the dormitory and found a large, lumpy package on Lily's bed. Curiously, they approached it and carefully unwrapped it. All three girls gasped when they saw that it was Lily's dress, sent to her from Salem. They could not stop staring at the beautiful gown. Even Lily, who usually cared less about frivolities such as gowns and Formals was rendered speechless by it. As she fingered it lightly she thought that it was the sort of dress that was fit for royalty, yet she owned it and would wear that very evening. She tore her eyes away from it long enough to see that there was a note with the package.
It took a while in creating it, but here is your gown for the St. Valentine's Day Muggle Formal. We here at Salem sincerely hope you like it, and wish for you to have fun tonight. And remember, don't drink or let that Potter kid take you into a broom closet or I'll personally knock the socks off of him so many times that he'll never wear shoes again.
We love you, kiddo,
Headmaster West and the entire staff of Salem Magical Institute
Lily closed her eyes after she read the note. Thanks, West. Thank you to all of you.
"Lily!" Aria exclaimed softly. "That-that is absolutely gorgeous! Molto bello!" (A/N: Italian for "very beautiful")
"You're going to look fabulous tonight!" Ashley squealed.
"I know," said Lily, dumbfounded.
The rest of the day passed rather quickly, and all too soon it was four o' clock. Aria and Ashley determined that it was time to ready themselves for the Formal, and had decided that Lily had to start preparing as well. The redhead had been in the middle of a game of Gobstones with a seventh year, and was beating him as well. She had complained at first when her friends came for her, and when they continued to insist, she had turned towards them and said
"Look, you guys, I'm about to win a The Who CD! This is really important! And-holy schnitzel, are you INSANE? It's four and the Formal starts at eight! How long can it take to get ready?"
"That's exactly what I've always wondered, Tigger," said Sirius, not taking his eyes off of the game.
A few other boys muttered in agreement. The two girls scowled and waited for Lily to finish her game. When she had won, they promptly dragged her up the stairs before she could celebrate her victory properly.
The three girls found their dormitory occupied by their archrivals, which sneered at them on entrance. Lily stepped forward and cracked her knuckles while she pretended to be studying her nails, and the two girls left hurriedly, muttering something about getting ready in a seventh year friend's dorm. Ashley, Aria, and Lily laughed as they watched Trewyn's and Ebony's retreating figures, and then set to work. Aria and Ashley each dumped their entire make-up collection onto Trewyn's bed, and Lily's eyes grew as round as saucers when she saw the assortment of cosmetics. Good LORD! That's a LOT of stuff�but Petunia still has more.
"Is that all make-up?" she asked in awe. "Do you actually use all of it? How can you have that much? Oooh, heeheehee look! This one looks like lipstick but its got a brush inside! That's so nifty! I wonder what this one does?"
Aria and Ashley exchanged horrified looks at their eccentric friend, who was currently commenting on the small popping noise that was created when one removed the wand from a bottle of mascara. The two approached her slowly, and gently removed the mascara from her hands.
"Lily," said Ashley very slowly, as if dealing with a child. "Have you ever worn any make-up before?"
"Nope," said Lily, who had now discovered a compact and was prodding the pad, used for applying blush. "I never liked the stuff. It seems such a bother to have to put it on and take it off every day."
Ashley nodded and went into conference with Aria.
"It looks like we've got a rookie on our hands," said Ashley in a low voice.
"It shouldn't be too much of a problem�as long as she goes along with us and doesn't touch anything," Aria muttered, glancing over at her friend.
"All right. You do the make-up, and I'll do the hair."
"Lily!" Aria called. "All right, we don't have much time, but we'll manage. Sit on the chair at the vanity."
Lily sat, and Ashley set to work unraveling the French brads on either side of her head. Lily immediately stood up, appalled.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! I may not know mascara from lip gloss, but I can certainly do my own hair!"
"Uh huh. And what were you planning to do with it for tonight?" Ashley asked.
"Um�Leave it down?"
Ashley looked thoughtful.
"Well�you could do that, but then your back would be covered and you wouldn't see it."
"Oh," said Lily, not understanding what was wrong with that. "Um, do I want my back showing?"
"What are you asking me for?" asked Ashley. "I was just thinking since the back is a very essential part of your dress, so I was going to put it up in a bun."
"Ohhh," said Lily, understanding. "Well�I guess that would be all right."
Ashley worked on her hair, and Aria began with the makeup. As she applied each of the cosmetics, she explained how it was applied and what it was used for.
"You've got to at least learn the basics, Lils," she said as she dotted her friend's face with foundation. Oh, Tigger, kill me now. This gunk on my face had better be worth it or else Aria is going to find that a few spiders mysteriously slipped into her bed during the night.
After almost three hours of running around the room yelling for the curling iron or eye shadow or shoes, the three girls were finally adding the finishing touches to their ensembles. Each looked breathtaking, as if they were goddesses that had descended to earth to grace mortals with their radiance.
"Ready to go?" asked Aria.
"As ready as I'll ever be," said Ashley, nervously.
Aria smiled at her reassuringly.
"Everything will be fine. Lils?"
"I don't want to go," she said softly. "What if I step on James' feet? Or if I spill punch on my dress? What if he thinks I look awful?"
"Who are you and what have you done with Lily?" asked Ashley, stunned.
"Lily wouldn't care about the what ifs because she'd know that they don't matter, and she'd certainly know that James is madly in love with her and always thinks that she's hotter than the sun," Aria scolded. "Now snap out of it or I shall be forced to kick you. And I will, you know I will, I'm armed with stiletto heels!"
They're right. You're being stupid. That doesn't help! I'm still scared enough to wet myself! All right, what would Tigger do? Well, for starters, he wouldn't be going to a Formal, so what you're doing is pretty pointless. Do you EVER stop being incredibly annoying and sarcastic? No. Then make it a point to try! Lily smiled, and tried to end stop the incessant fluttering of butterflies in her stomach.
"Good girl. Now let's go!"
James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter had opted for readying themselves for the big night by starting half an hour before they were due to meet their dates. The mood in their room was far more laid-back than that of the girls. Their preparation consisted of shaving, gelling their hair, and slapping on cologne.
"Moony, you haven't asked anyone to go with you tonight, have you? Besides Ash," Sirius questioned as he ran his fingers through his hair.
"Yea, I asked Trinity Barklove, that girl from Ravenclaw," said Remus, biting his lip very hard and wincing as he put on after-shave.
Sirius and James did a double take.
Remus looked form one boy to the other.
"Moony! You're usually the smart one!" exclaimed James, throwing his hands into the air.
"How are you supposed to woo Ashley if you're with another girl?" Sirius demanded.
"What is with you and saying woo?" asked Remus, smiling.
Sirius turned red, but quickly went back to questioning.
"Don't change the subject. How are you going to pull this off?"
"Don't worry, Padfoot, I've got this all under control," said Remus, tying his tie.
"Heaven help us," muttered James.
By seven forty-five, the fifth, sixth, and seventh year Gryffindor boys had congregated in the Common Room to wait for their dates. Eventually, the girls began to come in packs, and the area began to empty. Remus, feeling awkward in his black suit, looked around the room, noticing how some of the proud purebloods had decided to deck themselves in wizarding attire, though there were only a few of those. It felt odd to see his classmates dressed in Muggle formalwear. He had been about to leave Gryffindor Tower to wait for Trinity in the Entrance Hall when he received a nudge from Sirius. Remus turned his attention towards the Girl's Stair, and what he saw made his jaw drop to the floor.
Ashley was standing on the stairs. She was easily, in his eyes, the most beautiful girl in the room. Agony wrenched at his heart, causing him a pain he had never known before, as he saw her float gracefully down the stairs, and then it began to beat faster and faster until he thought it might burst. The dress fit her perfectly, like a second skin. It accentuated all of her curves, and the desire to hold the radiant angel and touch her arose in him stronger than ever before. The dress' soft golden shade complemented her eyes well, which were adorned with mascara and a color of eye shadow that was a blend of gold and peach. Her hair was up in a traditional spiral bun, and two stray, curled strands of hair framed her face. Her luscious lips were covered with red lip gloss and he licked his own lips subconsciously, longing to kiss them. Another nudge, this time from James, abruptly ended Remus' thoughts.
"Stop staring," he muttered. "She's coming this way."
*Shit shit shit. Whatever you do, don't screw up! Don't screw up, don't screw up�*
"Hey, guys," Ashley said softly.
She had not wanted to come outside by herself, to face Remus by herself. Ashley had begged and pleaded with Aria and Lily, but they had firmly pushed her out the door, telling her that it made no sense for her to enter the Common Room with them since her date was not in Gryffindor House. Now, she slowly met his eyes, and found them unreadable. He looked�normal. ~What does that mean? Is he angry with me? Does he see me as nothing but a friend? Oh, please, please, PLEASE, let him see me as more than a friend!~
"Hi, Ashley, looking good," said James.
"Fabulous," said Sirius.
Remus almost forgot to speak.
"You look great."
She smiled and blushed. *Can she BE any more adorable?*
"Thanks. Lily and Aria said that they'd be down in a minute, but I couldn't wait for them because I-I've got to go meet, um, meet Rh-"
"Thanks for telling us, Ash," said Sirius hastily.
Ashley and Remus both looked relieved that she had not been forced to say her date's name. She flashed Sirius a quick smile.
"Well, I'd better be going then," she said.
She began to leave the Common Room, but Sirius pushed Remus forward.
"Ashley," he said, nervously.
She felt a chill go up her spine as he said her name and turned around.
"Do you mind if I come with you? I have to meet someone there as well."
The words seemed to bounce off of her, like boulders being thrown at a wall. Remus had a date. He had a date. And why wouldn't he? ~I can't possibly think that he wouldn't have gotten one. It's completely unreasonable! So why didn't I think that he would? Ugh, I want to crawl into bed and die and forgot that this mess ever happened!~ Ashley quickly recovered.
"Sure. I mean, I don't mind." The two left the Common Room together.
"This is going to be interesting, Padfoot, my friend," James sighed.
"What is?" A voice at the top of the stairs called.
The two boys looked to see who the voice belonged to, and their eyes practically bulged out of the sockets.
Lily and Aria were standing before them, looking like two angels who had been placed on earth just for them. The boys could barely keep themselves standing as they stared.
Lily's dress was a pale green color. The top part of it was dotted with numerous, tiny sparkles, which stopped high above her waist. It was long and did not flare out at the bottom, but instead ended with her feet covered in a sea of green and silvery-green fabric. The dress had two slits on either side that came up to just above the knee, but there was silvery-green colored silk underneath them. There was a trail of sparkles in a pattern of curling waves going up both sides of the dress that started where the slits ended. The dress had spaghetti straps, and the back was open until the beginning of her shoulder blades, where thin green straps began to cross her back. The straps ended at the end of her shoulder blades, and the back finally closed. She stood before James with anxiety in her dazzling, sparkling, vivid emerald green eyes, which were lined with black eyeliner and covered with a silver eye shadow and mascara. Her full lips were a deep, mysterious red, and she wore the necklace he had made for her around her neck. Lily's hair was in a simple bun encircled by tiny braids, and she too had two curled strands framing her face.
"Lily," James said huskily, pulling her closer to him.
Her beautiful eyes sought his for approval.
"D-do you like it?" she whispered.
"You look too beautiful for this world," he said, stroking her face. "You're more beautiful than any picture, any flower, anything."
Lily blushed and felt relief wash over her like a cool, refreshing wave upon parched sand. James cupped her face with his hands, and she inhaled the clean but risqu� scent of him. He kissed her amorously, and Lily felt herself become enveloped in his kiss. His hands left her face and inched there way up her back, making her shiver as she felt them on her bare skin. Lily lost awareness to anything and everything except the kiss.
Aria's gown was midnight blue with a halter instead of straps, and it flared out at the bottom. Blue flowers with dark blue beads in their centers ran diagonally down the front of her dress in an uneven chain and along the hem at the bottom. The open back ended at the middle of her shoulder blades, and the same flowers followed each other in a descent in the opposite direction as the front, but still diagonal. She wore a black choker with a flower in the center, and her hair was up in an elegant French knot. She wore mascara, had lined her eyes, and had put on the palest blue eye shadow available. Her glossy, red lips completed the ensemble.
Sirius wrapped his arms around her as soon as she had reached him. He looked into her eyes, those enrapturing pools of purple and blue.
"You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen."
Aria knew by his tone and gaze that he was completely serious, and her heart skipped a beat. *He called me a woman.*
"Sirius-" she began, but stopped, for he was making a slow trail of kisses down her face to the nape of her neck. Aria felt herself go weak at his touch, and she ran her hands through his jet black hair.
All of a sudden, the two couples heard someone clear their throat behind them. The four stopped what they were doing and turned to find a very red fourth year student.
"Er, P-Professor McGongall asked me to tell all of the remaining fifth, sixth, and seventh year students that the Formal was about to start and that everyone was ordered to report to the Entrance hall."
They thanked the younger student, and hurried off to the Entrance Hall. It was completely crowded with students who were talking and laughing excitedly, waiting for the night's events to begin. The foursome saw that Remus and Trinity were on one side of the hall talking with her group of friends, and Ashley and Rhys were on the other side with his. But, before they had the chance to decide which of their friends they would go to, the large, ornate, wooden doors magically opened, and the students assimilated into the Great Hall.
The walls were decked with deep scarlet, pink, and white banners. The four House Tables had been moved farther back to create a dance floor, and they were covered with red or white tablecloths with golden silverware. Also, the chairs had been replaced by ones that had statuettes of Cupid with his bow and arrow on the backs. There were mysterious, floating, heart-shaped glowing things on the walls, which created just enough light to see well enough and set a romantic tone. Red, white, and pink streamers were attached to nothing, yet were suspended from the ceiling. The students murmured with surprise as they stood on the dance floor, waiting for the music to start. When Dumbledore took the stage, they stopped their chatter.
"It is a great pleasure to welcome all of you to the very first St. Valentine's Day Muggle Formal!" the old wizard began, and was answered with cheers and applause. "This event would not be possible, had it not been for our Professors of Muggle Studies, Transfiguration, and Charms, along with the school Prefects and the Head Boy and Girl!"
This created more applause, which James responded to by bowing and pretending to look very humble. Lily laughed along with the rest at his little performance, and even Dumbledore smiled.
"I will keep you from your festivities no longer. Let the night begin!"
The students cheered as the hired band called Twelve Purple Cabbages began to play a slow song. Lily smiled as James led her to the dance floor.
"May I have this dance?" he asked, offering a hand.
Lily laughed and quickly composed herself, and attempted to look as regal and proper as possible.
"Yes, you may."
James placed his hands on her hips, and she hers around his neck. He leaned his forehead against hers, and she closed her eyes, savoring the moment. I'm never going to be able to leave him. Never. Even if I have to.
Throughout the night, happy couples could be heard inside of the Hall or in the rosebushes laughing, talking, dancing, and whatnot. And every time Ashley heard one of those noises, her own unhappiness increased. She danced with Rhys, but instead of looking at him her gaze drifted off towards Remus and Trinity. Try as she might, she could not stifle the burning desire rising inside of her to be in the other girl's place. All in all, Ashley was having a fantastically horrible night, and she was itching for it to end.
Rhys Davies was not as stupid as he looked. He was smart enough to know that his date was completely restless and was not enjoying herself at all, and she had not been throughout the entire evening. He therefor decided to take action.
"Hey, babe, you look bored with this shindig. Why don't we go outside? Maybe you'll feel better out there," he suggested.
Ashley struggled to control her temper.
"Sure, just as long as you never call me 'babe' again."
She walked out of the Great Hall, and Rhys smirked to himself. This girl had spunk, something that none of the other girls he had dated had. She was feisty, and he liked that, for girls with spirit were great in the sack. He followed her out of the Great Hall.
Remus had been watching the small spat between him and her, and was gazing after them when Trinity's voice brought him back to reality.
She was obviously frustrated with him. Remus felt sincerely guilty that he wasn't treating her as well as she deserved to be, but he couldn't help himself. His thoughts were elsewhere.
"I am going to go get some punch. Would you like any?" she asked.
"No, thank you."
Trinity sighed and left him for the beverage table. Remus stared at the door she had left through until Sirius blocked his vision.
"All right, Moony, this is just becoming pathetic."
"I agree with you, Padfoot," said Remus, ashamed.
He was acting like a fool and he knew it.
"If you are not out of this Hall in twenty-five seconds I think I am going to be forced to beat the shit out of you," said Sirius. "I'm going to start counting now: one�two�"
Remus was gone before he had reached the count of five. Sirius smiled with satisfaction at his work.
Meanwhile, Rhys and Ashley were standing outside by the lake. The glassy, rippling water created the only noise that could be heard, save for the rustling of rosebushes. There was a quarter moon high in the velvety black sky, which was dotted with millions of stars shimmering like diamonds. It was a beautiful night, and it would have been perfect for Ashley if only he were with her instead of Rhys. Seeing as she was bored, she decided to converse with her date.
"Its beautiful outside."
Rhys looked at her hungrily and replied.
"Not as beautiful as you."
Before Ashley could react, Rhys kissed her, a large, wet, sloppy kiss. He grabbed her arms roughly and held her so tight that it was painful. Panicking, she struggled to free herself of his iron grip, but his hands still locked her arms into place and he kissed her harder. Slowly, the hands crept their way up to her shoulders and slid the straps of her dress down. That, for Ashley, was crossing the line. She was no longer panicking, but completely angry and resentful. Furious, she bit his tongue and slapped him with all of her strength, and sent Rhys reeling backwards. He rubbed his red, sore cheek and glared at her. She shook uncontrollably, but fought to keep herself dignified and not fall to pieces about what had almost happened.
"DON'T TOUCH ME!" she screamed. "Leave me the hell alone! If it hadn't been for you, this night could have been perfect!"
Before the enraged boy had a chance to speak, Ashley ran towards the castle, as fast as her high-heeled shoes allowed her to go.
"YOU'RE A SHITTY KISSER!" he roared after her.
"RIGHT BACK AT YOU!" she yelled without turning around.
Fueled by anger, shame, and misery, Ashley ran and ran, not stopping until she had reached the front steps of the castle. Here, she finally dared to stop. She sat down on the last step and hugged her knees tightly to herself, and cried. She felt like vomiting. ~How DARE that disgusting little git kiss me! The NERVE of him! God, I feel so dirty. And how could I be so stupid as to agree to go with him? Going with no one at all would have been loads of more fun then going with that jerk. And going with Remus would have been heaven.~ Suddenly, she heard footsteps behind her, so she quickly dried her eyes and stood up to find Remus there. He looked surprised and concerned to find her there, and it was obvious to her that he knew that she had been crying.
"Ashley, what happened?" he asked worriedly.
She shook her head and shrugged to tell him that she didn't want to say, and began to walk away, but he hurried after her and caught her hand.
"Ashley. Tell me what's wrong," he said.
His voice was low and quiet, but definitely not passive. It was firm and demanding, but filled with kindness and warmth at the same time. She sighed, knowing that he would not let go of her until she had told him, and was secretly glad of that. She did not want him to ever let go.
"I-I came outside for some fresh air a-a-and he came along too-"
"Yes. We were out by the lake and he used the oldest, cheesiest line in the book, and then-"
"The 'it's beautiful out here tonight' 'not as beautiful as you' line. I was about to laugh at him and tell him to go jump in the lake, but then, he-he-" she stumbled. Ashley could not bring herself to tell him that he had come onto her�literally.
It was too shameful for her to speak of. Remus' eyes suddenly filled with anger.
"Did he kiss you," he asked, trying to keep his voice steady.
It was no use. His words shook with the animosity he felt. Her pleading eyes met his.
"I didn't want him too! I don't like him in that way! I couldn't stop him, Remus, he did it so fast! When I realized what was happening I tried to get away but I couldn't, he was holding me too tight! I couldn't scream either because his mouth was completely over mine. I finally slapped him and managed to get away after he-he-he-" Ashley subconsciously crossed her arms across her front, and she grasped her shoulders as if she was defending herself against some attacker.
She shuddered and felt the bile flow up to her mouth once more as she remembered the feeling of his groping fingers, but she forced it to stay down, and it suddenly dawned upon Remus. He knew what had happened. A burning fire of fury sparked and grew in his eyes as he comprehended what Davies had tried to do to her.
"Where is he?" he growled. "Where is the bastard? I'll kill him! Where is he, Ash?" *HOW DARE HE TOUCH HER? He had no right to! She's too good for him! That slimy piece of shit is going to pay for what he's done!*
"Please, Remus, don't hurt him!" Ashley exclaimed.
There was no doubt in her mind that Remus would seriously injure the boy if he found him. Even kill him. And although she hated Davies for what he had tried to do more than she had hated anything before, she most certainly did not want him to die.
"I can't just let him get away with it, Ashley! I can't let him think he can just get fresh with you whenever he wants too! I'm not going to let that happen, I love you too much!" Remus exclaimed.
His eyes widened with surprise when he realized which words had just left his mouth. *But I don't take them back. Thank GOD, I've finally said it!* He nervously watched her face for her reaction. Ashley's eyes widened, and she burst into tears. *Shit! What have I done? Maybe she doesn't love me. Way to go, me!* He tenderly brushed away the tears that were cascading down her exquisite face.
"I don't know how that managed to slip out, Ash, but I don't deny it. And I'm truly sorry if this upsets you, but I-"
"Stupid git!" Ashley exclaimed, looking up to face him through her tears. "Have you any idea at all how long I've been waiting to hear you say that? Five years! Five years I've been in love with you, and you finally decide to tell me now! I waited and waited for you to ask me to the Formal, and when I thought that you had no intention of asking me I said yes to that jerk, and then you asked me and my heart broke when I had to say no! I've been waiting for so long!"
Ashley had stopped crying and was now half yelling and half laughing. She had never been so happy in her entire life. ~He loves me! He loves me! He LOVES me!~ Remus laughed along with her and hugged her tightly.
"What took you so long in asking me, anyway?" Ashley asked when they had finished laughing.
Remus smiled sadly at the memory of his foolishness.
"You deserve the best the world has to offer. I-I didn't think that you'd want to go with me because of, you know, my being a-"
"I don't care about that," Ashley interrupted. "I'd still love you if you were a vampire or a chizpurfle."
Remus laughed loudly at the serious expression upon her face as she said this.
"I know. And I should have known that you wouldn't care about that," he said.
"So�what do we do now?" asked Ashley.
Personally, she wouldn't have minded staying in his arms for the rest of the night.
"You," said Remus, looking very stern, "still owe me a dance. And there's one left."
"Well, what are we waiting for?" Ashley asked, leading him to the castle.
Back in the Great Hall, James, Sirius, Aria, and Lily were completely distraught. The last dance of the night was approaching fast, and Davies had come back to the dance without Ashley, who, along with Remus, was still missing.
"Where are they?" Aria asked frantically.
"Relax, darling, they might be in a closet or a rosebush somewhere, happily-"
"What?" Aria gave him a reprimanding look. "Watch out, Melody, or you might find yourself a professor one day."
Sirius gave her a mischievous look. Aria rolled her eyes.
"Look, you guys!" Lily exclaimed as she pointed towards the wooden doors. "They're coming!"
And so they were. Remus and Ashley entered the Great Hall hand in hand as soon as the last, slow song began to play and began to dance. Their four friends began to head towards them.
Remus placed his hands upon Ashley's slender hips, and she wrapped her arms around his neck. The music played in the background, and the two looked deeply into each other's eyes.
"Ashley," Remus murmured.
"May I kiss you?"
Ashley scanned his eyes quickly for the same look that Davies had had, but she found only tenderness and affection. She knew that he would not try to force himself onto her, that he truly loved her, so she nodded, and moments later she felt shocks of love's electricity as his lips pressed gently against hers. He was gentle, not forceful as Davies had been. She was not scared as they kissed, but felt completely safe from the evils of the world. This was what she had been waiting for all of those years, and she savored every second he was kissing her. Remus was astonished at the softness of her lips and their sweet taste; how perfectly her delicate body fit against his. Theirs was not a kiss of lust, a result of an overflow as teenaged hormones as had been the case when Davies had kissed Ashley, but a kiss of true love, the kind most only dream about. Dumbledore sensed that as he watched the two, and a smile spread across his lined face. The couple broke apart for a moment to catch their breath, and resumed again with her lips parted. The kiss seemed to bind their love and connect their souls. And their friends simply watched with happiness that their two friends had found each other at last.
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